The Hamilton High School Charger Robotics team concluded an outstanding season April 21-23 in Atlanta emerging as one of the elite teams in the national For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) competition. The Charger Robotics team was selected for the No. 1-seeded alliance of the Newton Division as it culminated its seven-week competition season at the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome. The three-team alliance that included the Chargers proceeded from the quarterfinals to the semifinals and ultimately to the Division Final competition where it was eliminated in a best-two-out-of-three round. By advancing to the Division Final, Chargers Robotics was among the top 24 teams from a field of more than 1,000 that participated in the 2005 competition. They lost only to the team that eventually went on to win the entire national competition.
Entry to the national competition was earned twice over for the Hamilton team. They qualified first at the March 12-14 St. Louis Regional competition by earning the second highest honor that FIRST bestows upon a team, the Engineering Inspiration Award. Then at the Midwest Regional in Chicago March 24-26, they came home with a victory.
Hamilton science teacher and Robotics advisor John Budish characterized this season as the best since the school began competing in FIRST robotics. A number of local corporations sponsor and mentor Hamilton’s Robotics team. In its 5-year history, the team earned nine awards and recognitions and won two regional events. Through its partnerships with GE Healthcare, Rockwell Automation and Pentair Water, it has mentored eight other teams into FIRST, hosted Lego League and mini regional events at Hamilton. In fact, at the semifinal match in Georgia, Hamilton faced an alliance that included the Pewaukee team that they mentored.
The event in Georgia was the world’s largest Robotics competition, seen by about 20,000 spectators at the scene and many more who saw it live on a NASA webcast.
FIRST was founded by Dean Kamen, inventor of the portable insulin pump, and the Segway Human Transport. Kamen believed that not enough high school students were considering careers in science and technology careers. FIRST now helps to inspire young minds in theses fields through the FIRST Lego League, the newly announced VEX Robotics Challenge and the FIRST Robotics competition. In 2004 and 2005, more than 40,000 students in 22 countries have had an opportunity to achieve in FIRST organized programs.
In collaboration with FIRST, Woodie Flowers, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dave Lavery, NASA’s Solar System Exploration program director, create a novel challenge each year for teams to design, build, test and then use to compete according to the rules and guidelines released at the kickoff event in January. A six-week build season then commences and teams work collaboratively with students, teachers and technology professionals.